Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Father's Heart and God's Heart

UPDATE FROM TEC GC: South Carolina has left the building. There is only so much of Machievalli even the most patient of Christians can endure!

TODAY's POST

Having congratulated GS yesterday on how it responded to Glynn Cardy's motion on the theology of marriage, there still remained to see what would come of Waiapu's two motions re same sex partnerships. In the end one was set aside and the other was also amended. The amended motion had started with the intention of confirming the autonomy of a bishop to ordained whom they chose. The stated explanation for the motion made it clear that this motion if resolved as it stood would lead to the Bishop of Waiapu (at least) ordaining whom he chose. Sanity prevailed, as you can read in Lloyd Ashton's report in Taonga. I suggest that conservatives in ACANZP, in particular, should reflect carefully and prayerfully on this part of the report of the debate:

"And then one of the best-known, best-loved veterans of the Anglican evangelical scene – we won’t be naming him – got to his feet to speak.
This man has always believed, and still does, that the Scriptures teach that marriage is, and can only ever be, the faithful union of a man and woman before God.
And here he was, telling synod that his beloved daughter has come out.
What’s more, she has entered a civil union with her partner.
But there’s a twist. Because here’s the plea that his daughter, and her partner, insisted he make to synod:
“Please Dad”, he shouted to the synod. “Don’t let them do anything that would hurt the church!”
Coming out, he said, had cost his daughter and her partner.
They’d been worship leaders in their local church, and they had voluntarily resigned before they came out, and before their civil union.
If their union was going to hurt that much-loved church – well, they’d rather carry the pain themselves and resign.
But still, they were begging this man to keep his integrity.
Please  don’t change, Dad,” they told him, “unless you’re personally convinced that this is what the Scriptures say.”
Dad still doesn’t agree with his daughter and her partner’s lifestyle.
But there’s no question about the steadfastness of his love for his daughter and her partner.
“I love them passionately ,” he said.
He’d been to his daughter’s civil union ceremony.
He’d spoken there, too – just as the father of the bride usually does at a wedding.
“There is nothing that you can do,” he told her that day, “that will make me love you more.
“And nothing you can do that will make me love you less.”"

I simply say, again, re the challenge for conservatives, we must engage, as this brother in Christ is doing, with the pastoral challenge of the situation of same sex couples seeking to live their lives in faithful partnerships. One way to imagine ourselves into this challenge is to constantly ask ourselves what, if anything, would be different about what we say, do, think and pray about these matters if it were our own flesh-and-blood who come to us and say their lives are not 'straight'forward in the way we might wish them to be so. 


What, in the end, is our heavenly Father's heart attitude to those who love another person with a love which is as great as the love of a husband for a wife or a wife for a husband?*

The amended motion which was approved, reads thus (and changes nothing about the current situation of our church:


"This General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui affirms the long tradition and practice of Episcopal autonomy, within canonical limits, in the discernment of a person’s call to ordination."


In other news from GS, a motion which Bosco Peters and others in the Diocese of Christchurch worked hard to formulate was passed, undergirding a resolve to be a Trinitarian liturgical church. Taonga report here.


However our normal warmth towards Bishop Kelvin Wright's blogging from GS is chilled slightly by his lack of enthusiasm for proper collects for our church!


Not all bishops in TEC are happy, as this statement of dissent makes clear. Perhaps critics here of my criticism of TEC could take note that TEC's own internal critics make pretty much the same criticism I make.


For something completely different, nothing to do with synodising or conventioning, J. Louis Martyn has something incisive to say about Galatians.


*PS: the question is about 'love', not about 'sex'. Framed in that way, we can scarcely dismiss it with appeals to the Bible's teaching on sex. Please refrain from doing so in comments on this post and, if you wish to comment, comment on the question!


PPS: Maybe I am being too strict with my strictures in the PS above! I find it hard to say what I think I want to say, but I am concerned that we can pastor those who are in dispute with what our doctrine is ... including pastoring those who consciously (and conscientiously) disagree with our doctrine. I think of a partnered gay friend who knows "all the arguments" and is unlikely to be persuaded by anything further I have to say, but would prefer me not to push for that which might lead to expulsion from the church and, vice versa, would not want to push for that which might lead to my expulsion from the church. If I were his vicar, what would my pastoral engagement with him involve (and not involve)? I can quickly state what the doctrine of marriage is (and why it should remain what it is). I find myself less able to state what the pastoral engagement of the pastor is to those who by word or deed or word-and-deed live out a different understanding of the doctrine of marriage. Is the question answered by saying, tout simple, that they must repent?

46 comments:

Chris Spark said...

Hi Peter, at this stage just a question - doesn't the Taonga report say that the motion re the Bishop's autonomy was acually left 'sitting on the table until 2014' or something similar - does that mean it was passed? I had thought not.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Chris
That is a really good question. I think there is a bit of ambiguity in the wording of the report. This is my interpretation:

"The movers were happy to let their original motion lie around for two years to be picked up again, after the Commission has done its work; and agreed with the amended motion, even though, effectively (because it underlined the status quo) nullified the intent of their motion as originally worded."

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I have two comments to make.

Firstly, when thinking of the 'greatness' of love, I would be reluctant to set marriage as the gold standard, as if to say, if your relationship reaches that 'greatness' of love, then you qualify for status and recognition.

Great love can/should be a part of marriage. But it is also found in all kinds of non-sexual relationships: a parent for a child, brother and sister, life-long friendships, a soldier for a comrade in arms. Most of all in God's love for the world through the atonement of Christ.

So, the fact that a love reaches some std of greatness, does not itself provide moral grounds for sexualising that love. A brother may have a deep love for a sister, but that is no moral justification for incest - even if both feel sexual desire for the other.

My second comment is on your challenge to conservatives. It's hard to see how we can avoid your strictures. A number of us were aware of the situation that our brother was in - a situation that is indeed shared by a number of others as well. For evangelical kiwis, at least, thinking through these complex issues has never been from a pain free aloof distance.

From my experience, the reality has always been one of compassionate engagement with a broken world of which we are all very much a part.

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I appreciate your rejoinder - nothing is "easy" here!

And, I agree, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to separate "love" and "sexualised love", but, at least pastorally speaking, I am wanting to know (with our brother, mentioned in the article) how we make that pastoral engagement, even as we uphold the doctrine of marriage.

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I'm not precisely sure what you mean by pastoral engagement, but the pastoral principles have been helpfully discussed by the American Catholic Bishops in their online resource: Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care (2006). Despite the bad press that Roman Catholics often receive, I find much wisdom in this statement.

I would imagine that pastoral engagement takes place for both laity and clergy as we open ourselves up to one another in fellowship within the life of the congregation. I also hope that we always speak within the congregation knowing that these things will be an sensitive and intimate concern for many present, even if not openly disclosed.

Malcolm

MichaelA said...

"What, in the end, is our heavenly Father's heart attitude to those who love another person with a love which is as great as the love of a husband for a wife or a wife for a husband?*"

Why would it be any different to his attitude to every other sinner? God loves each of us and seeks to rescue us from our sin - the fact that the two lesbian people love each other doesn't make their sin any worse or better than my sin (I have a whole catalogue of those!)

To show the flip side: if there were a lesbian couple who did not love each other, they would still need God's forgiveness and love, the same as the lesbian couple who do love each other.

Heterosexual couples need God's lvoe and forgiveness too, just as everyone does. But its important to note that a heterosexual couple who are married and have sex together don't need forgiveness for that, because they aren't doing anything wrong.

Peter Carrell said...

By 'pastoral engagement', Malcolm, I mean (at least): how we relate to self-identifying gay and lesbian members of congregations, to same sex couples, including how we might support and encourage them in their life in Christ (even when we disagree with them); similarly members of congregations as they workout relationships with family/friends who self-identify as gay or lesbian; as well as how we engage relationally with people in comparison with how we might address ethical/theological matters (such as by discussions on blogs ... which all too quickly take on elements of academia or abstraction).

kiwianglo said...

"Heterosexual couples need God's lvoe and forgiveness too, just as everyone does. But its important to note that a heterosexual couple who are married and have sex together don't need forgiveness for that, because they aren't doing anything wrong."
- MalcolmA -

Here you go again, Malcolm! - so very certain of what is and what is not sin - even to the point of saying that heterosexual sex within marriage is not sin.

In saying this, you are mailing your flag to the mast - inferring that any sex outside of marriage is sin. Does this cover what used to be known as nocturnal emission - a totally natural sexual phenomenon?

Do you believe that to be a sin, or just a peccadillo, I wonder. What are your parameters for sexual sin?

A-sexuality is, I would think a most rare phenomenon - even among the clergy. But this seems to be what you are advocating - except for those in heterosexual marriage. This must be why our church is gearing up to a public discussion on what Marriage is all about. I do hope you're not scared by it.

Shawn said...

Ron,

Michael can be certain becuase that is what our Lord teaches in Scripture. Sex within marriage is not a sin. All sex outside of marriage is a sin.

In one sense certainty is not required, merely the ability to read Scripture, and the humilty to submit to the Lord's teaching.

Your comment about nocturnal emissions is not relevant, because that does not involve two people becoming one flesh.

You comment about nocturnal emissions because that has nothing to do with two people becoming one flesh.

Shawn said...

We do not need a public discussion about marriage because we already have our Lord's teaching on the subject. What we need as a Church is the humility to submit to the authority of our Lord rather than arrogantly going our own way in order to suit the liberal political fashions of the day.

Tim Chesterton said...

Much moved by your story of the evangelical leader, Peter - many echoes with my own story. Thanks.

Bryden Black said...

If I may try to tread carefully in a delicate arena.

Given the last say 10 years, Peter, the language of “pastoral engagement” has become a most curious one.

On the one hand, it is simply the face to face requirements of good careful attention to people, a care generated one trusts by deep reflection and spiritual direction garnered over years of prayer, study and experience, all undergirded by the Scriptures and the Church’s Reasonable Tradition. On the other hand, it is also quite clear from the wording of some key Resolutions and statements from the likes of TEC et al that “pastoral care”, and similar expressions like “local option” & “diversity of pastoral practice”, have become ‘code’. Where such expressions are just ‘code’, what they really mean and what some might hear them to mean obfuscate to a high degree - and are meant to so darken minds and hearts, IMHO.

Peter Drucker is correct: the best indication of future performance is past performance. I.e. the heart reveals where it truly resides over a certain trajectory. And where those trajectories clash: well; that’s nothing new in the mission of the Church! One’s pain is always capable of being ‘baptized’ into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. Any good and faithful pastor knows full well that reality ...

Father Ron Smith said...

I am deeply in sympathy with both Peter's story of the Evangelical Leader at Synod, who declared his undying love for his daughter and her same sex partner, and with Tim Chesterton's own declaration of love for his son and partner in a similar situation.

What both parents have experienced, I believe, is the need to practise and perpetuate 'The Great Love of God as revealed in the Son'.

I also find this motion by the ACANZP General Synod to be entirely consistent with what has happened in many Churches of the Anglican Communion for a very long time now, and hope it will continue to prevail:

"This General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui affirms the long tradition and practice of Episcopal autonomy, within canonical limits, in the discernment of a person’s call to ordination."

There must, by now, be many hundreds of Gay people ordained into the priesthood and episcopate of our Churches - many of them known to be intrinsically gay by their ordaining bishops. This is a fact of life and ought to be acknowledged by the Church.

To acknowledge this reality would be healthier - especially in the light of ongoing conversations about gender and sexuality.

"The Truth will set you free!"

Peter Carrell said...

Agreed, Bryden, that the language is tricky. But I think the risk worth taking in (at least) this sense: sometimes as I/other conservatives discuss the doctrine of marriage, theology of sexuality, etc, it is not clear to me what our pastoral practice is, and what informs that pastoral practice (save for, sometimes, the likes of, "Well, Peter, you just tell them they need to repent.") And, maybe I am just being obtuse in thinking that is (a) insufficient; (b) not quite what Jesus would say.

Peter Carrell said...

Or, at least, "Not all that Jesus would say." (Thinking about the woman at the well, to whom he neither said, Leave your de facto husband, nor, Marry him tomorrow.)

Shawn said...

Peter,

We do not know that he did not say this, and given that he stayed with that community for several days, then an argument from silence is woefully insufficient.

You yourself have made the point that Jesus did not mention child abuse either.

I think it is an unfair caricature to say that the conservative position is merely to tell people afflicted with same sex compulsions to repent. Of course not, and I have never met a conservative or evangelical pastor who would simply leave it at that.

If pastoral engagement moves from compassionate truth telling and support to affirming sin, then it has ceased to be pastoral engagement, and has become disobedience to Christ and promotion of a Satanic lie.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
You make good points.
To clarify: I am not saying that Christians or Christian pastors would boil pastoral care down to "Repent." But I am saying that when I have tried to open up here, or in personal conversations the possibility that there might be other avenues to explore re what we might say to those in faithful, loving same sex partnerships, some responses have effectively been, "Well, Peter, you have got to tell them to repent, just as you would any other sinner!"

I think, as a conservative with pretensions to being compassionate, that I am caught in a tension between not wanting to affirm sin, while not wanting to tell one gay person who loves another gay person deeply, to dissociate from that person. (To clarify: in writing the above words I write about myself, I am implying no evaluative conclusions about how other conservatives, including yourself, are working out what it means to be a compassionate conservative).

Bryden Black said...

G’day again Ron. “The Truth shall set you free!” Just wee bit of tongue in cheek - but only just a wee bit ...

Well; once more we need to put that famous (overused) expression into context: both the immediate verses, vv.31-33, and then the entire chapter - well; from 8:12 due to the equally famous “floating pericope” - and then finally the entire Gospel’s Theo-drama. When one does that, I can only call the conclusion of your comment, July 14, 2012 1:00 PM, a delicious irony (admittedly, on a par with much of the FG).

For the FG and the entire Johannine corpus asks of us to integrate as fully as we may love, truth and glory. And the only way we may do this is via a profound Trinitarian appreciation of God’s reality, which many of those pushing certain agendas nowadays eschew in spades. One reason the floating pericope incident is where it is is probably due to just that - Jesus’ glorious manifestation of “love/grace and truth” amidst our collective ‘guilt’.

MichaelA said...

"Here you go again, Malcolm! - so very certain of what is and what is not sin - even to the point of saying that heterosexual sex within marriage is not sin."

Yes, funny that! Although I think it was me that wrote that. Same initial, different spelling, but no matter.

"Does this cover what used to be known as nocturnal emission - a totally natural sexual phenomenon?"

Why would it? You do get some curious ideas into your head, Father Ron!

"A-sexuality is, I would think a most rare phenomenon - even among the clergy. But this seems to be what you are advocating - except for those in heterosexual marriage."

No, I've never advocated that. Why would you think I had?

"I do hope you're not scared by it."

I'm not. Are you? :)

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

I am caught in a tension between not wanting to affirm sin, while not wanting to tell one gay person who loves another gay person deeply, to dissociate from that person.

This is a rather selective tension. Assume Bob is married to Carol. Would you find tension in telling Bob to dissociate from Alice even though Bob loves Alice deeply? This happens all the time in the real world. Bob marries Carol, and then decides he has found his 'soul mate' in Alice. Bob kicks Carol to the curb. What then would you tell Bob? Bob's justification is inevitably his own happiness. But what of virtue? Does the tension still exist when you consider the advice that you would give to Bob and Alice?

There is a marked tendency in man to presume that happiness is the measure of life. In fact, happiness is the most self-centered selfish measure of life that can be used. Man is not called to be happy. He is called to be good. You resist telling a homosexual that he must sever his connections to a homosexual relationship because you want to spare him the unhappiness that would attend. But you council him to value happiness over virtue. It is no different from vindicating the adulterous husband in his new adulterous relationship.

Now you might protest that the existence of an injured party is the difference. But the injured party does not define the lack of virtue inherent in the relationship. God does. The sin is first against God and not the spouse. Remember what Joseph said to Potiphar's wife. So also is the sin of homosexuality first against God. Our first duty is obedience to Him and not fidelity to a spouse. Indeed the requirement for fidelity proceeds from obedience to God.

Consequent unhappiness is not sufficient reason to withhold Godly counsel from those who must hear it. The unhappiness that results from rebelling against God is far more severe than the unhappiness that results from forsaking transient temporal relationships that are condemned of God. You do a man no favors when you let him remain in such a relationship in order to protect his happiness.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
Of course I am being selective! When A is married to B but claims to now love C, telling A to dissociate from C is simultaneously to say to A to renew love and commitment for B in the context of marriage. A has possibilities here that two people in a same sex partnership being told to dissociate do not have.

You assume I am talking about happiness. I am not. I am talking about love which is different to happiness. I am also talking about some basic human needs around companionship which is not to be equated to happiness. The tension I am talking about arises precisely because I have realised as a married adult that singleness can mean both living alone and loneliness. (It need not, but it can). I am loathe to conjoin people to loneliness.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

It doesn't matter whether you call it loneliness or unhappiness. (In fact I could argue that loneliness is simply unhappiness at being alone.) Both are self-focused metrics that are being set off against obedience. Why do you consider their loneliness more significant than their rebellion against God?

carl

Shawn said...

In the modern West love has in in fact been redefined to mean happiness, so the distinction your making Peter may fall on deaf ears. Biblical love means self-sacrifice. Modern love means self-fulfillment.

And it is self-fulfillment that is in part behind much of the thinking that promotes homosexuality as a valid lifestyle.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt as a husband is that love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go like the ebb and flow of the tides. Base your marriage on that, as so many do in these times, and your in trouble. Which is why our divorce rates are so high. One spouse decides that they are no longer happy and being fulfilled, so they walk away to find fulfillment elsewhere.

One of the problems in these discussions in the Church is that modern definitions of love have infiltrated the Church.

We need to disentangle Biblical/Trinitarian love from modern distortions if we are going to think clearly and Biblically about these issues.

And this problem extends beyond issues of marriage. Modern notions of love have also distorted our understanding of God. This is why so many liberals have trouble with the Old Testament's depiction of God. Time and time again I have heard liberals say that a loving God would not do many of the things the Old Testament describes God as doing. This came up recently here when a couple of posters expressed horror that I would consider the whole of Scripture as the Word of God.

But they are defining love in a modern way, as sentiment, happiness and self-fulfillment.

Much of the so-called "new hermeneutic" is not new at all. It is the old Marcionite heresy raising it's head. And it has and is distorting the Churches theology in a myriad of ways, including our thinking about homosexuality and marriage.

But this is because they are defining love in modern way

Shawn said...

"I am loath to conjoin people to loneliness"

I wonder what the Desert Fathers and Mothers would make of that?

How far the modern world has fallen.....

kiwianglo said...

Bravo, Peter! Loneliness is the lot that conventional Churchianity prescribes for the LGBT community.

Janice said...

I am talking about love

OK. But which sort; agape or eros?

Remember when young people used to say that sex before marriage is OK if you love one another? These days, who bothers with attempting justifications? It's just what everybody does.

"You and me, baby, we ain't nothin' but mammals so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel." (The Bloodhound Gang)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Janice, Carl, and Shawn,

We are talking in this context largely about a Western phenomenon (i.e. domestic arrangements in a non-communal world of flats, apartments, houses with nuclear families, etc) and in the 21st century which has its differences from the world of the centuries when monasticism was all the rage; we are not talking about "sex before marriage" justification(s), but about prospects for life for lonely gay people who have no immediate prospect of being killed young in a war, dying of an epidemic such as smallpox or typhoid; and we are talking about agape love in which eros may be mixed (as those of us fortunate to be married may find ourselves experiencing, with all the sacrifices as well as the blessings that come from a committed state of faithful, stable, permanent love).

My question to you, is where in your words in this thread are you demonstrating any specifically Christian insight into the tension and difficulty of being gay in this particular world in which we live?

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

My question to you, is where in your words in this thread are you demonstrating any specifically Christian insight into the tension and difficulty of being gay in this particular world in which we live?

I am deliberately demonstrating no such thing. The tension in the homosexual exists between the created order and his desire to act in ways that violate the created order. You are seeking to mitigate that tension when you should be seeking to reinforce it.

1. I deny that homosexual desire proceeds from created nature. I assert that it is a sinful desire that results in chosen behavior.

2. I deny that authentic desires are by nature good. I assert that the sin nature produces authentic sinful desires, and that man is responsible to rise above these desires.

3. I deny that the characterization or context of a relationship fundamentally alters the nature of the relationship. I assert that there are divinely-appointed structural boundaries to relationships that can never be overcome by human desire.

In short, the fact that a homosexual man may face the prospect of a lonely and long life without the kind of companionship he desires has nothing to do with the morality of the relationship he desires. Sin doesn't transmute itself into non-sin just because we might otherwise feel bad about ourselves and our life. It is your responsibility to stand on that position.

Note the man doesn't have to be lonely. He simply wants the moral universe bent to his desires. He wants companionship on his terms and not on God's terms. He could find it within the created order, but he chooses not to do so. Why would you facilitate this rebellion?

And you still haven't answered my question. Why do you consider their loneliness more significant than their rebellion against God?

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I appreciate your vigorous response and articulation of theological reasons for taking the pastoral approach which you do.

You are right to question me, and to check out whether I am going to answer the question!

Our experience of loneliness as humans is not more important than our obedience to the command and call of God. I hope that I would not teach otherwise.

I guess I engage with the pastoral issues here in the way I do, not because I am wondering what to teach, or what to give as an answer to a lonely person who seeks my counsel, but because I find people tend to enter into relationships without asking me first, and thus I am confronted with what to do in response. Reaction, not proaction.

Whether I speak up about these or am silent in passive acceptance of their reality is a matter for me to work on; but I have never found the sensitivities of people to their own particular domestic situations easy to reckon with. I hate hurting people ...

carl jacobs said...

Pater Carrell

You hurt them more in the long run by refusing to confront them directly about their sin. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

"The tension in the homosexual exists between the created order and his desire to act in ways that violate the created order. You are seeking to mitigate that tension when you should be seeking to reinforce it."

- anonymous carl -

"Don't you call anything I have made 'unclean' " - God -


carl, you obviously have missed the whole point of this exercise - that God has created humanity in the divine image and likeness - but in God's way and not our own.

In suggesting that Gays are in any way different from how God has created their innate sexuality is possibly blasphemous, and unfitting for a supposedly 'Christian' commentator. Peter is seeking the truth - not refuge in out-dated dogmatic anathama

Your troll-like comments on this New Zealand blog are doing nothing to demonstrate the willingness with which Jesus accepted his call to die on the cross for our salvation.

God, knowing our infirmities, yet chooses to continue in the task of redemption. It is not the Church's task to commit people to perdition.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Your comment just sneaks past El Moderator. But I offer this comment re your use of the word "troll-like" in respect of Carl: there is nothing at all "troll-like" in respect of Carl. He owns his own name; he comments rationally; he engages with the issues at hand.

My challenge to you, Ron, is to name the basis on which you assert that God has made all people the way they are. This kind of assertion would need to account for other sexualities such as transgenderism (is it really God's ideal creative will that people should be confused sexually?) and paedophilia (we do not accept that because someone is created with such a tendency that there is anything to affirm or celebrate about it). I suggest you are oversimplifying the complexity in the range of human sexualities versus God's plan for creation.

Bryden Black said...

1. There seems to be another tack we have not engaged on this current thread re how the Church and Christian communities - of any size NB - might tackle this entire business of being alone and/or loneliness (as set up by Peter).

It is to be found in Jana Marguerite Bennett’s sensational book, Water Is Thicker than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness (OUP, 2008). Its radical, in both senses of the word, proposals simply undercut the trite ‘solutions’ of so-called equality rhetoric re homosexual and heterosexual ‘marriages’. They also undercut what passes really for a bourgeois one-size-fits-all approach, while at the same time completely denying extreme feminist calls for true marriage’s dissolution. Tolle; lege!!

2. Ron; I often wonder whether you have any theology of the Fall at all. Peter is right to point out that what ‘is’ might often not be what ‘ought’ to be at all. For to say the Creator made what we currently deem to be a same-sex orientation might itself be a blasphemous claim ...

kiwianglo said...

" My challenge to you, Ron, is to name the basis on which you assert that God has made all people the way they are. This kind of assertion would need to account for other sexualities such as transgenderism (is it really God's ideal creative will that people should be confused sexually?)" - Dr.Peter Carrell -

My challenge to you, Peter, is that you otherwise try to explain why human beings are in any way different from one another?

Confusion is not limited to LGBT people, it is common to all human being during the age of puberty. Most rans-gender people know 'who they are' from an early age - as do most homosexuals.

Is it, do you think, that God designed the differences? Or, (and this is a possibility that atheists would certainly champion); is the difference in physiological make-up a sign of random evolution?

Whatever we are born with is either within God's providence, or it is not. Remember that both scorpions and doves are the work of Creation.

You probably have to be either intrinsically LGBT yourself; or closely related to such a person, to even try to understand them. Once you understand that they have no option but to be who they are, you begin to believe that, in some way, LGBT people are a natural part of God's creation - subject to the very same moral imperatives as any other human being.

Behaviour is something else. But we need to remember that at the heart of it all is how one person relates to another person - either lovingly or disrespectfully. This is the criterion of all human behaviour.

Both hetero- and homosexual people have the possibility of forging human relationships that are either wholesome or unwholesome.

Sexual Promiscuity is not limited to homosexual people. And where loving mutually faithful monogamous relationships are sought and lived out in reality, surely this is within God's design for everyone?

Most critics of LGBT people are completely unaware of the struggle encountered by such people in a predominantly heterosexual society.
The great myth is that they choose to be as they are, when to conform to the stereotypical heterosexual model, if it were possible, would their first preference.

However, progressive scientists and theologians have come to the realisation that there is no authentic therapeutic treatment (either medical or spiritual) that can be guaranteed to change one's innate sexual orientation.

Despite the best efforts of the medical and scientific community's attempts to re-orientate the sexual drive of such persons - sometimes causing psychological damage to the person's sense of well-being - there is no 'silver bullet' known to effect any permanent change.

If we, as a society, choose not to suffer the co-existence of people with innate sexual difference (and I'm not referring to paedophiles or sexual predators here, who may be diagnosed with mental disorders, who may be either heterosexuals or LGBTs); then this is no less objectionable than the SIN of discrimination against other people on the basis of race, gender, social standing or any other matter of differentiation from ourselves.

Shawn said...

Ron,

I just spent six months watching my next door neighbors wife die of cancer.

Did God create the cancer? Should we bless the cancer and celebrate it?

As Bryden asks do you have any concept of the Fall and what it has done to the created order? Or any concept of the reign of Satan andd the influence over creation of demonic powers and principalities?

You may choose to disagree with Carl, but his comments are not troll-like. On the other hand I have seen no evidence of serious theological engagement with the issues from you. And by serious I do not mean that I have to agree with it. I have and do know liberals who are deep and serious theological thinkers and who know how to engage in civil debate.

Could you please give your brothers and sisters in Christ who post on this blog the respect of engaging with us seriously and without personal attacks and abuse?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Your answer fails to distinguish between what happens to us under the general providence of God and whether what "is" in a particular situation conforms to the ideal will of God.

Let me take a different issue. When a child is born the ideal will of God is that the child grows, matures to adulthood, lives to a ripe and wise old age, and dies peacefully. This does not happen in all cases, indeed, some babies die in infancy, to say nothing of people dying through cancer in young adulthood, or killed in war, or by disaster. Yet all such deaths occur under the general providence of God: the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, as Job says.

We mourn those early deaths. And precisely because they fall short of God's ideal will for ourselves.

In some cases, as Shawn points out, it is our own bodies which are the problem (i.e. not the behaviour of others). In all sorts of ways our bodies give us difficulties in life, even when they do not kill us young. Some difficulties might be comparatively trivial (e.g. baldness) and difficulties easily resolvable (buy a hat), but in other cases, not so: some people are born without limbs, some with deficient organs such as a weak heart or faulty kidney. Whatever explanation we give for these deficiencies ('the Fall', kink in evolutionary development), we do not celebrate these deficiencies as "God made" but we may accept and live with them as "God permitted."

I think it a reasonable question to ask whether differences in sexuality are "God made" or "God permitted" and to further ask what is the way God might require us to live with what God has made or God has permitted.

Incidentally, while one of the known paedophiles I have met (and, sadly, they have been ordained clergy with a "record") could readily be classified as mentally quirky, I haven't met any who have been classified as mentally ill. I have met one who was disarmingly normal. Ditto in some cases of sexual predators who have also been ordained clergy (who must have once sneaked through diocesan discernment processes!). Did God make them they way they turned out to be with their predilections, or permit them to be part of the vast mix of humanity (which includes me with quirks, deficiencies and shortcomings, to body, mind and spirit)?

Father Ron Smith said...

"Could you please give your brothers and sisters in Christ who post on this blog the respect of engaging with us seriously and without personal attacks and abuse?" -Shawn -

I will forgive your calculated denigration of my ability to bring experienced theological insight into conversation on this blog, while seriously questioning your own provenance in this matter.
________________________________

"I think it a reasonable question to ask whether differences in sexuality are "God made" or "God permitted" and to further ask what is the way God might require us to live with what God has made or God has permitted." - Peter Carrell -

In reply, Peter, might I offer a small parable: While working in Darwin and acting a a lay chaplain to the local hospital, I asked the mother of a young man who suffered chronic illness, whether she found this almost too difficult to deal with. Her answer was that, through the illness of her son, the family had grown to love and nurture him in ways that might not have been possible were he to be well.

The lesson I learned there was that God can use any perceived human failure (as a result of the 'Fall') to engender a positive power of love - for those willing to grasp the opportunity provided.

This is one reason why I 'grasp the opportunity' to show love to Gays, whom God 'allows' to be as they are and cannot help being. This does require a ability to 'think outside the square' of dogmatic theology.

"They'll know you're my disciples by your love" (not by your capacity for judgement!)

Shawn said...

"I will forgive your calculated denigration of my ability to bring experienced theological insight into conversation on this blog, while seriously questioning your own provenance in this matter."

You have managed to totally miss my point and to misunderstand what I said.

I was not "denigrating" your ability to do so, merely pointing out that you usually do not, but instead make comments like the one above about Carl's posts being troll-like.

I am sure your capable of it, I would just like to see more of it, and less of the personal attacks. And I don't think I am alone in that.

Shawn said...

""They'll know you're my disciples by your love" (not by your capacity for judgement!)"

True love, by its very nature requires moral discernment concerning right and wrong, especially right and wrong expressions of love. Otherwise it is not love, but mere sentiment.

Some pedophiles claim to love the children they abuse. Should we take their word for it, or exercise moral discernment?

Men who beat and abise their wives will often follow abuse with passionate declerations of love. Should we take those declerations seriously? Or exercise moral discernment.

Biblical love requires moral discernment, and moralk discernment is not "judegement".

Bryden Black said...

G’day Ron! I did appreciate your most recent long comment on this thread: its desired compassion in the face of suffering and the existential angst/burden of the sufferers; its attempts at understanding such things being also clearly revealed.

Peter has already begun to pick up on my earlier brief remark re the ‘is’ versus the ‘ought’, which also raised the question of the Fall. He (and Shawn) crucially point out there’s a world of difference between the wholesome and necessary notion of Divine Providence and the doctrine of the Fall. I think at last we are getting down to some helpful and vitally important means of truly evaluating discussion on this blog.

For in the end, that’s what such blog dialogue is very much about: tossing around the various means of evaluating various understandings of various experiences, and testing their robustness, bringing to the surface assumptions and the very criteria of understanding and evaluation. That’s a part of the reason for my appreciation now: the increased clarity is very helpful.

A few brief remarks on “orientation”, since you offer them too. I’ve had to conclude after nearly thirty years of focused attention on this issue (together with years more of incidental observation) that the jury is well and truly out still. Aetiology/causes would appear to be multifactorial: hormonal, genetic predisposition, epigenetic, parental (especially in the early years PRE puberty), cultural fashion, et al. Christians, and notably Christian scientists and psychiatrists and social analysts, etc, will themselves have to exegete ever more deeply their own supposed professional ‘ideologies’ and their ‘theologies’, the latter which we all have, for better or worse, richly or badly formed as they might be. For example, when the TEC HOB delivered its Theology Committee’s report re same-sex relationships, Lent 2010, the differences and the presuppositions undergirding those differences are glaring! Another example, which I noted very early on: in the 1970s and 80s there was virtually no talk among ‘activists’ about “orientation”; all the talk was around freedom and freedom of expression. It was only in the 90s that this talk shifted to “orientation”. Now; I’d ask a series of questions: why? on what grounds?! and to what real purpose?!?!

My own understanding of redemption, and notably firstly its eschatological premise in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and secondly its necessary link with creation - I am decidedly NO gnostic! - will mean that I too will sit often with any human sufferer, trying to participate in their sufferings which too are Christ’s, while there appears no ready ‘solution’, other than gritty courage in the face of “How long?!” and “Where now is your God?!” (cries from the Psalms you will no doubt pick up on). But then again it will be precisely also my understanding and Christian experience that will pray for restoration - under many diverse situations. Sometimes by way of answer the sufferers will be asked to continue in Christ’s sufferings (thus reflecting the Glory of the Crucified Lord, at best); at other times, they - and we - will be granted signs of future Glory in their participating in Christ’s Resurrection by way of healing. This twin process/outcome - and with all points in between - I’ve seen with gay men and women no less than with cancer sufferers. I’ve also witnessed it on the larger scale of national and global politics, as no doubt you have too! No silver bullets at all, anywhere. Just the call to Christian discipleship and self-abandonment to divine providence, knowing well the Holy Spirit and our spirits may rejoice in the hope of our calling (Romans 5:1-5, ch.8 in its entirety), even as we await the transformation of the world in Christ’s New Creation - often with “groans”, but always (potentially) in faith, hope and love.

Bryden Black said...

The sheer providence of God has thrown this my way this lunch hour:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/june/resurrection-bridge-between-two-worlds.html?start=1
Enjoy!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Just the call to Christian discipleship and self-abandonment to divine providence, knowing well the Holy Spirit and our spirits may rejoice in the hope of our calling (Romans 5:1-5, ch.8 in its entirety), even as we await the transformation of the world in Christ’s New Creation - often with “groans”, but always (potentially) in faith, hope and love." - Bryden's penultimate post -

Bryden, I acknowledge your point here made - that we are all in some way called to 'suffer with Christ' in the situation into which we, personally, find ourselves. We also have to 'suffer with the Christ' in others - and their situation. We are not immune to the suffering of Christ in other people - we are not separate from it, nor immune to its call upon our own responsibility to exert the sort of Charity that Jesus Christ has already exerted - in life-time of identification with sinners, in His dying and rising.

We are all a part of the sin of the world, and therefore equally responsible for its depredation in the lives of others. We are not above the world in our judgement of it. We (in the body of Christ) can only hope that the Christ who has redeemed us, will, through our prayer and suffering with other sinners like ourselves, offer them the same redemption.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron; we are in heated agreement about that wee line of thought and praxis at least!

Thereafter, I suspect our respective processes of 'moral discernment', based on our respective means of evaluation and understanding of such experiences are most likely - different. By which term of course, I also mean something rather different [sic] than that which Fitchett means (for example).

Shawn said...

Ron,

Yes we are all equally sinners, and yes we are to suffer with others, but how foes that lead to accepting homosexual activity as a valid choice for Christians? The first does not automatically lead to the second.

A priest, or a layperson, can suffer with a murderer, or a thief, or a wife beater, they can treat them with compassion. But does that mean they have to go on to say that the sins the murderer, the thief, or the wife beater committed were not sins in the first place? That they can go on murdering, stealing and wife beating?

No.

Your repeated assertion that to be loving, compassionate and non-judgementsl means we must accept homosexual activity or gay marriage as valid makes no rational or theological sense.

You keep leaping from A to Z without ever explaining theologically why one leads automatically to the other.

Father Ron Smith said...

Here for everyone's consideration, is the opinion of just one of the Bishops of the Church of England, the Rt. Revd. Alan Wilson, whose comment on the stand of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (shown on 'kiwianglo' under the title of "Bishop Alan Wilson on the Gay Issue in the Church") includes this statement:

"The bigger context (of Abp.Tutu's overview) is persecution and violence LGBT people face around the world. We must hang our heads in shame where any Church leaders have colluded with or even promoted it. The kind of “unity” you purchase with one brother by spitting in the face of another, or even turning a blind eye, is not worth having. It is sub-Christian."

Further, in Bishop Alan's article, is his reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury's openness to a group of young Anglicans at Lambeth Palace on the problem of the Church's entrenched attitude towards Women and Gays.

Two rather significant Archbishops of our worldwide Anglican Communion are concerned at the Church's continuing intransigence towards Women and LGBTs in the Church. This should stir conservatives in the Church to re-think attitudes.

Shawn said...

"this should stir consevatIves in the Church to rethink attitudes."

I do not see why. Neither has offered a theological argument as to why Scripture is wrong.

And apart from that both Archbishops are proponents of cultural Marxism, so I'm inclined to be suspicious of anything they say.

Tutu in particular is not a person I respect. Google "Archbishop Tutu comments on Jews" to see why I don't take his "inclusiveness" seriously.

If he wants to lecture people on the persecution of homosexuals he should first apologize for his support of terrorist groups that murder Israelis.

I'll stck with Archbishops who take a stand on the authority of Scripture.